Arab Knesset members and public figures criticized Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar's vision for the educational system's goals over the next two years, saying it was political, not pedagogical.
The Arab MKs urged Sa'ar to put aside his "mock patriotism" and deal with the real issues plaguing the educational system: Student violence, intolerance and the erosion of democratic values.
"We categorically oppose the new model suggesting schools would be financially rewarded according to the number of students who enlist in the military or National Service," said Dr. Hala Espanioly, who heads the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee's educational board.
"You cannot demand Israeli Arabs join the IDF in the current situation in Israel. Some of the criteria suggested are inconsiderate of us. Since when is military service a standard in education? These are not pedagogical considerations, but political ones."
Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh added that "the education minister is jumping on the militaristic, racist bandwagon for nothing but political gain. Sa'ar should address dropout rates and the fact that there aren’t enough classrooms, instead of acting like chief education officer."
The schools, said MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al), "Are not Likud branches. I respect the education minister, but the schools are not political brainwashing factories.
"It seems as if the minister has been infected with the mock patriotism virus, choosing populism over dealing with the real problems in the education system."
Former Education Minister Yuli Tamir was also critical of Sa'ar's plans saying that "the Netanyahu-Lieberman government continues to discriminate against all minorities in Israeli society… This (plan) will only widen the gaps between Jewish and Arab schools."
Sharon Roffe-Ofir contributed to this report